Might our landscape plants be adding to the loss of our bird populations? A friend gave me an article from Veterinary Medicine International entitled “Feeding Behavior-Related Toxicity due to Nandina domestica in Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum)” which startled me.
Out of dozens of dead Cedar Waxwings found in Thomas County, Georgia, five were carefully examined. All had hemorrhages in their upper respiratory area and lungs. Berries of Nandina domestica were the only thing found in their digestive tract. So, with that evidence plus the typical lesions from cyanide poisoning that were found, the conclusion was that the cyanide in those berries was the deadly culprit.
These lovely birds do devour food before they can assess its effects, granted. But the upshot of the article was that we should remove the berries before winter to save the birds. So that got me to wondering if similar things might happen as a result of our birds eating what they can find out there where, more and more, the majority of foods available are hanging from plants originally imported from other parts of the world. Just because we observe them eating voraciously and they fly away, it doesn’t mean they will live to fly another day, right? Is it like kids eating junk food? Not immediately harmful, but definitely harmful.
Does anyone know any more about this topic? I would love to find out what is known about this. In the meantime, it seems wise to dispose of those Nandina berries before the birds do.